The International Olympic Committee has announced the Tokyo 2020 Olympics will be postponed by one year.
- The Tokyo 2020 Olympic games have been postponed until 2021
- Australia had already said it would not attend the games if held in July 2020
- The Olympic Flame will remain in Japan until the games are held
Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe earlier announced he had requested the postponement after a late-night teleconference with IOC President Thomas Bach.
“I asked if the IOC could consider postponement for around a year and Mr Bach said he was 100 per cent in agreement,” Mr Abe said.
“The Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games will be held at the latest by the Summer of 2021 — and [Mr Bach] agreed with that.
“As a symbol of mankind’s victory over coronavirus, we will host the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics in their complete form.”
In a joint statement, the IOC and the Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee said the decision to postpone the games was to safeguard the health of the athletes, everybody involved in the Olympic Games and the international community.
The Olympic Flame will remain in Japan, as a symbolic “light at the end of the tunnel in which the world finds itself at present,” the statement said.
The Olympic Flame is currently in Fukushima, and the torch relay was due to begin on Wednesday.
Tokyo’s Governor Yuriko Koike said the flame would serve as a symbol of solidarity and also victory over the coronavirus.
Ms Koike said the Games would still be branded the 2020 Olympics, even though they would be held in 2021.
The Australian Olympic team took to Twitter to share an uplifting message of unity and a collection of athlete reactions to the news of the postponement.
“The date my change, but the goal remains the same,” the post said.
Australian Swimming star Cate Campbell also posted to social media, turning to Instagram to express her reaction to the news and to the coronavirus pandemic in general.
“To be honest, I’m left reeling and feeling a little lost. But the goal posts haven’t disappeared — just shifted. It’s time to recalibrate and fire up for the next challenge,” Ms Campbell said.
“I’m thinking of everyone who has been affected by this pandemic, let’s stick together through these times and come out a stronger more united community. We are all in this together.”
But the postponement poses huge logistical hurdles for games organisers, with scheduling and increased costs certain to pose challenges.
Japan’s Olympic Minister Seiko Hashimoto said she hoped the news of the postponement would reassure athletes around the world.
“It must have been very concerning and worrisome for athletes to try to maintain their physical condition, so I appreciate that a decision was made,” she said.